Sunday, January 07, 2007

Best Music of 2006

In other news, time to look back on the last 12 months of music. 2005 saw some fantastic releases, big and small (Foo Fighters, Coldplay, White Stripes, Gorillaz), and I was blessed to have been in the thick of the New Zealand scene (Phoenix Foundation, Shihad, Che Fu, Pluto, Gramsci). But summing up 2006, I have to say it surpassed it in depth and new discoveries. Difficult, as usual, choosing and ordering my top 10, but here goes (plus the runners up who deserve mention) :

10) "10,000 Days" - Tool. Sounds somewhat the same, but they still got it. Also, the best packaging, bar none.
9) "Idlewild" - Outkast. Ambitious, sometimes faltering, crosshatching of Prohibition-era jazz and hip hop. Mad props for making a music video in the form of a feature film!
8) "Dante XXI" - Sepultura. Their best since Max left. Gotta love the Divina Commedia in heavy metal.
7) "Bitter Tea" - The Fiery Furnaces. Amazing collision of electronica, prog themes, garage punk, and improv.
6) "Trials of Van Occupanther" - Midlake. Sweet harmonies, delicious melodies, masterfully produced flavors of 70's prog pop. Two of my year's top 10 songs - 'Roscoe', and 'Young Bride'.
5) "The Crane Wife" - The Decemberists. Not as strong an album as last year's Picaresque ('16 Military Wives' beats the pants off of 'O Valencia'), but a major impact on their major label debut. Hugely epic, yet intensely personal, catchy (despite the repetition repetition repetition of some lyrics), this band made huge strides.
4) "Ys" - Joanna Newsom. More epics abound, with 12-minute songs and 25 pages of lyrics. She delivers the goods as a modern troubador, a captivating singer/songwriter, and a visionary composer.
3) "St. Elsewhere" - Gnarls Barkley. I'd been anticpating this one for a long while : Danger Mouse & Cee-Lo, if it was as good as 'Danger Doom', I'd be happy. Well, this hip hop-meets-Motownish soul exceeded all expectations & became one of THE biggest albums of the year overall, and 'Crazy' just never got old, all summer long.
2) "River of Crime" - The Residents. I'm ashamed to say I've only gotten into The Residents recently, despite being aware of their talent and weirdness for more than a decade. True artistic and marketing innovators, when I heard they were coming out with a radio serial, and that you'd buy the blank CDs and download the episodes in installments, I was all over it.
1) "The Rose Has Teeth In the Mouth of the Beast" - Matmos. A series of biographical sketches realized in song, everything good about Matmos on display here, as they continue to grow as artists. Their live show in October was one of the best, most interesting shows I've ever seen.

Honorable mention - the re-release of "My Life in the Bush of Ghosts" by David Byrne and Brian Eno. Go online to remix their songs!

Worth a mention - "Tweedles" by The Residents; Thom Yorke; Don Cabellero; "Operation Mindcrime II" - Queensryche; Mike Patton's "Peeping Tom" for the 2nd best CD packaging; Slayer back with their original lineup; Wolfmother; Dr. Octagon; Starlight Mints; The Ditty Bops; Vienna Teng; Cat Power; Dixie Chicks
Worth mentioning I didn't get these ones, but I wanted to. Maybe my list would've been different : The Raconteurs, Loose Fur, Strapping Young Lad, Johnny Cash; His Name is Alive (go suburban Detroit!); David Gilmour; .

Monday, January 01, 2007

New Year

Happy New Year, everyone. I'm not usually one for platitudes and affirmations, but it's time to take a deep breath and head forward. May you put the worst of 2006 behind you, take the best of 2006 with you, and face the future with open arms and mind, may you reach your goals, and may the cosmos treat you fortunately.